Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

If you would like to submit a Cost of Living survey, you can answer the questions on line - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9S6HQCD

Approximate conversion rates as of December 17th, 2017

33 Baht to one US Dollar
43 Baht to one Pound Sterling
38 Baht to one Euro
25 Baht to one Australian Dollar
0.64 Baht to one Philippine Peso

William

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at a private language school in Bangkok doing evenings and weekends. I work three hours each evening and five hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Teachers are paid 350 baht an hour so for a 100-hour month, I receive 35,000 less a bit of tax.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Almost nothing. Every time I manage to scrape 10,000 baht together, there is always some unexpected expense like needing a new laptop or having to make a trip to the dentist.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live on the sixth floor of a very ordinary apartment building, where most of the residents are Thai. In fact I think I am the only foreigner. I have a fairly large studio apartment and pay 5,000 baht a month plus bills.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

My daily commute consists of a 10-baht motorcycle ride to the main road and then several stops on the sky-train, Probably around 2,000 baht a month if you factor in the odd taxi when I finish work feeling tired at 9.00 pm and just want to get home quickly.

b) Utility bills

I have air-conditioning but only turn it on for a few hours in the evening and in the late afternoon as I am getting ready for work. The water and electricity rarely break 500 baht a month.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I only eat Thai food and I try to keep my spending down to 200 baht a day or less (which is relatively easy to do) I've got to the stage where I don't miss Western food at all because when I do have it (which is rare) I'm always left disappointed. I think Western food is overpriced here and seems to get more expensive by the month. So my food bill is around 6,000 baht a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Almost nothing. I can't go out at the weekends because of work and during the week, I never really feel like it anyway.

e) Books, computers

I enjoy reading and download a couple of books a month and I do like my gadgets. I suspect this may all come to about 3,000 baht a month on average

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

It's OK. Nothing special. I realise that I am just treading water at the moment and there's a limit to how long I can tolerate giving up my weekends and doing the evening shifts. I'm already thinking of looking for full-time employment at a school when the busy recruitment period starts in March. At least that way I will have my evenings and weekends free.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

I think Thai food at what I call 'working class Thai restaurants' is great value at around 60-70 baht a dish. It's worth paying that bit extra compared to 40 baht street food stuff.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

As much as possible? LOL. I don't think 35,000 baht is anywhere near enough for Bangkok if you are looking for regular Western treats. 40-50K minimum. Hopefully I can start earning that amount in the future.

Phil's analysis and comment

Ah, the life of the private language school teacher. Fun for a while but eventually it wears you down.

I remember at the very first language school I worked at, we had a small group of female teachers who were teaching mainly for something to do. They were all housewives married to expats on decent relocation packages. They weren't doing it for the money. However they all refused to do evenings and weekends, They only wanted morning or early afternoon work. "Who wants to work in the evenings and at weekends when all your friends are out enjoying themselves?" they would argue.

This is true of course but most language school teachers aren't married to wealthy expats and need the work. So they do the evenings and weekends when their friends are elbow-bending in pubs and they are free during the day when those same friends are working. The language school teacher has a kind of 'alternative existence'. You are reluctant to go out on a Friday or Saturday night because you have a heavy teaching schedule the following day. From Monday to Friday, you can't go out for the day because the fact that you have lessons in the evening is constantly at the back of your mind.

It's definitely a lifestyle you have to adapt to. I did it for a number of years and although I never minded working either a Saturday or a Sunday (but not both!) I always hated leaving the building so late at night during the week - after what my fellow colleagues often referred to as the 'graveyard shift'    


Martin

Working in Saudi Arabia

Monthly Earnings 364,000 baht

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

My monthly salary was 364,000 baht and that included a 65% transportation and rent allowance.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

My target was to save 300,000 each month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I shared a 3-bedroom villa with one other person. Each of us had an en-suite bedroom and we shared the kitchen. The rent was 18,000 baht per month so my share was 9,000 baht.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I chose to live near my school so my only transportation cost was the price of a nice bicycle. Over three years, this worked out at around 1,000 baht per month. If I wanted to travel further afield, I would hire a car for the weekend so maybe another 3,000 baht per month on average.

b) Utility bills

Electricity and water are subsidied by the government so even with 50+ degree summers, my AC never caused a bill of more than 500 baht. Usually, it was closer to 350 baht. Water was 100 baht, which is not bad for living in a desert!

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Western food was imported (therefore expensive) and this was my one big indulgence - so around 30,000 baht per month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

Nightlife in KSA! That would be ZERO baht per month. There are no clubs, bars, cinemas, bowling alleys or any kind of public entertainment.

e) Books, computers

The internet was a lifeline for downloading TV programmes and books and cost 500 baht (1,000 baht split with my house mate).

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I don't drink or smoke so the heavy restrictions were not as big a concern for me as they can be for some. You have to prepare yourself both mentally and physically before taking the plunge and moving to the KSA. You are there to earn and save with a big sacrifice in terms of having a social life.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Petrol is subsidised so works out at around 6 baht per litre. Water and electricity are also a bargain.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Most (all?) people go to Saudi Arabia for the earning potential. I always considered 30% of my salary was for the work that I did and the other 70% was for having to endure being there. I survived and lived very well on around 50K baht per month but you would not want to work there for anything less than 250,000 per month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Martin for a very honest survey from the dunes.

Martin also had this to say - "my goal was to be able to return to Thailand without any money worries. My use of the past tense during the cost breakdown is an indication that this ' Saudi adventure' is now over and I have made it back to Thailand as of last month somewhat healthier, wealthier but maybe not so wiser"

I've heard it said many times Martin - you only go to teach in The Middle East for the money. But you did it and it sounds like it worked out well. 


Paul

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings About 170,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at an international school in Bangkok and my salary is 130K after tax for a Monday to Friday position. I also do part-time Saturday teaching and the occasional evening and whilst this amount varies greatly, it averages about 40,000 baht a month extra.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

It varies from month to month but I average about 100,000.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live with two other teachers. We share a three-bedroom condo near Asoke. It's 35,000 baht a month plus utilities, so my share is usually about 13,000.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

Asoke is great - we have the BTS, MRT, airport link and canal boats within walking distance. Which is great because the traffic is a nightmare! I rely on public transport and probably spend about 2,000 baht per month.

b) Utility bills

Utility bills are shared between three and usually come to 2,000 - 3,000 baht each (mostly for electricity).

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Again, Soi Asoke is great! Every cuisine I could imagine is within reach, unfortunately I have to pay for it and it comes to 15 - 20,000 a month.

d) Nightlife and drinking

It's Asoke... clubs and bars of ALL types are here! I have one night out a week and spend a few thousand, so probably 15.000 - 20,000.

e) Books, computers

I spend almost nothing on books and computers as I have a school laptop and the library there is great.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Fantastic! I work hard (6 days a week) but enjoy life too. Then again, during the school holidays I usually only work Saturdays.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Accommodation - a large 3-bedroom condo in the middle of London (my home) would cost a LOT more! Taxis too, especially if you're sharing.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Who knows? Everyone is different. I'm sure it's possible to live on 30,000 and many locals clearly live on a lot less. As a qualified professional however, I wouldn't want to. I've recently turned thirty and realised I need to start saving for the future. The question I often ask myself is... how much should I be saving in order to survive in the future? My calculations tell me to save at least 60,000 a month.

Phil's analysis and comment

You are clearly doing well Paul and you obviously love that Asoke area of Bangkok.

I would be very interested (as I'm sure would many others) on how sharing a place with two other teachers works out. 

Personally, I never think humans are built to share living spaces, except with those we choose as our life partner and of course any children that may come along. 

I shared a small condo with an old schoolfriend many years ago. We moved in as best friends but after nine excruciatingly long months, I was on the verge of committing murder. It started with small things. He would blow his nose on a tissue and then leave the tissue on the dining room table. WHY? He would clean his stinky sports shoes in the bathroom. He would make a cup of tea and never wash his cup up after him. Over time, the small annoyances started to stack up and sharing a living space became a living nightmare. 

That was over 25 years ago. We haven't spoken since. 


Lloyd

Working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monthly Earnings 90,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn the equivalent of 90,000 baht (before tax) working at a mid-tier international school on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

It really depends on the month. If I have a weekend away, I save almost nothing but I think I regularly save around 25,000 baht in a normal month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a nice modern condo in a KL suburb and pay 13,500 baht a month. It takes just ten minutes to walk to the nearest MRT train station, so it's in a good location. The building also has a rooftop pool and gym.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I don't have a car so I take Grab and Uber to most places. This is cheap at first but can add up after a while. I think maybe 1,000-1,500 baht a month.

b) Utility bills

Lloyd did not answer this question.

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Local food is very cheap and I will often eat this sort of stuff at school and also for breakfast but then I usually eat Western food in the evening. I eat mostly take-aways which adds another 10-12,000 baht to my food bill.

d) Nightlife and drinking

The nightlife in KL is fairly average and also expensive. I will often have a few beers on a Friday or Saturday and if you end up drinking after the happy hours have finished, this can end up expensive - maybe around 10,000 per month. I also play golf once a week for 750 baht and joined a gym and taekwondo club for around 1,500.

e) Books, computers

Lloyd did not answer this question.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I live a very Western lifestyle I guess, I can buy most Western items that I want at around the same price as back home. The lifestyle is more relaxed and the weather is sunny all year round. The biggest difference for me is the price of housing. I wouldn't be able to afford my own condo for the price I would need to pay back home.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Housing and street food

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I would say you can live on maybe 60,000 baht a month here and not live too different a lifestyle to back home.

Phil's analysis and comment

I think you are our very first cost of living survey from Malaysia, Lloyd. 

I haven't been for many years but I always liked what I saw in KL and I can imagine it being a place where you can live a very Western lifestyle - if that's what you're after. 


Jo

Working in Shanghai

Monthly Earnings 116,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn the equivalent of 116,000 Thai baht a month. This includes working full-time at an international school and 4,000 baht/week is from doing two hours of private tutoring a week.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

I save approximately 45,000 baht a month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Rents are quite high in Shanghai. I get 35,000 baht a month on top of my salary I quoted for housing. I use all of that rent subsidy to rent a one-bedroom apartment and that isn't downtown Shanghai.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

a) Transportation

I bicycle to my job and choose to live 20 minutes away. The subway is very cost efficient (20 baht on average) and goes everywhere as well

b) Utility bills

I have to pay approximately 4,000 baht for utilities (electricity, water, gas). Internet is cheap and you usually pay a fee for the entire year which is about 10,000 Thai baht a year. Electricity, water and gas are relatively inexpensive (800-1000 baht per month).

c) Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My school pays for my lunch, which saves me some money. I eat out two to three times a week and mostly eat Western food. I spend quite a bit on Western food, about 2000 baht a week. I don't eat much Chinese food but it is cheaper than Western food. Food at the market can be costly for meat and imported food. Easily spend about 4-5000 baht a month on food from the market.

d) Nightlife and drinking

I go out a few times a month. Beer can be expensive (175 for local beer and up to 300 baht for imported beer)

e) Books, computers

I don't really buy English books in China as they are hard to find.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My standard of living is pretty good as I don't worry too much about spending. I don't go partying every weekend but spend money on travelling on holidays. I can still afford to save and travel some. I travel once or twice a year out of country. I do think the cost of living in Shanghai is high and it is very easy to overspend on entertainment and nightlife if you wanted to. You can easily spend money on drinks and food as well. Rents are high especially if you live closer to the center of the city.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Jo did not answer this question.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

You need at least 75,000 baht a month to live a decent life in my opinion, but I'm sure people live on less.

Phil's analysis and comment

Always good to hear from a teacher in China because it's quite often a popular next destination for those who have grown tired of Thailand.

You've suprised me with your 'at least 75,000 baht' figure Jo. I would have thought about 55-60k might be enough but you're the expert. 

It sounds like you live a very comfortable life there. Not much more I can add.

Page 1 of 46 (showing 5 entries out of 230 total)

Featured Jobs

NES Teachers for Minburi

1 day, 18 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

1 day, 22 hours ago

฿35,000+ /month

Bangkok


Female English Teacher for Nursery Level

2 days, 4 hours ago

฿60,000+ /month

Bangkok


Teachers for Roi-et, Si Saket and Chonburi

2 days, 23 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Various locations


Corporate ESL Teachers

3 days, 1 hour ago

฿600+ /hour

Bangkok


Teacher - Reading Specialist

3 days, 19 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month

Bangkok


TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • Rakhat


    Diploma

    Kazakhstan, 22 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Beverly


    MA

    Filipino, 35 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Kenneth Bryan


    Diploma

    Filipino, 28 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Robelyn


    BEd

    Filipino, 31 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Gertrude


    BA

    Kenyan, 25 years old. Currently living in Kenya

  • Jane


    BSc

    Filipino, 27 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • ROCHELLLE


    Diploma

    Filipino, 27 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • juliet


    Diploma

    Filipino, 34 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Philip


    BA

    British, 59 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Arnaud


    Diploma

    French, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

Sponsors

Mediakids Academy

Top TEFL job placement provider with competitive benefits and an unforgettable experience.

English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

Smartys

Vacancies for in-house and corporate teachers at the finest schools in Suphanburi City

Eduplus

We get you a job! Options for school placements all over Thailand

BSI Broker

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

Space available

Become an ajarn dot com sponsor

The Hot Spot


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?